Up, as in “above”.
When we first started looking into the different styles of laneway houses, I thought I wanted a pitched roof. The reasoning was that the style would fit in better with the main house, which has a cottage roof. Plus I thought we would get more storage, as anything under 4 feet in height is not included in the overall square footage.
But then I started looking at what the top floor of a pitched roof laneway house looks like, and it seemed a little … cramped. Not so bad if all you want upstairs is a bed and bath combo, but we want our kitchen and sitting room up there. Because we are so strictly limited as to the height of the finished building, the pitch really cuts into the living space. The ceiling seems to press down on the rooms. And we definitely lost wall space for shelves, so the storage problem/solution was all swings-and-roundabouts.
So, a flat roof was looking more suitable. But not literally looking better. A flat roof with traditional shingles or tar-and-gravel will look like some kind of elevated asphalt slab when you see it from the deck of the main house. Great if you’re installing a heli-pad, but we are building in someone’s garden.
The answer, of course, is a living roof.
We discussed it with the builder, and it turns out that they are affiliated with the Live Roof system. Laurel explained that they use sedum plants, a very hardy succulent. They look great all year round. A living roof will improve the livability of the home by increasing the insulation of the roof (cooler in summer, warmer in winter) and not absorbing heat all day. They help mitigate the Urban Heat Island problem so many cities have. And they can last twice as long as traditional roofs.
We are starting from scratch, so any structural changes to support a heavier roof will be accommodated from the beginning.
We are really looking forward to this!